Every game needs a setting. Well, I suppose that isn’t true, Tetris doesn’t exactly have a setting, so if you are making some sort of abstract puzzle game then you can ignore this article.

Though this is a great visual representation of most settings I create. (Happy settings just aren't in me)

Though this is a great visual representation of most settings I create. (Happy settings just aren’t in me)

But if you are making any other kind of game, a setting is needed. And with an RPG, a setting is usually doubly as important.

I could write an article with a thousand ideas on methods to make a setting that is intriguing and unique, but I think sometimes we lose ourselves in talking in generalizations. So instead, I’m going to discuss a specific setting I’ve made, and walk through the steps of how it was created. Instead of just telling you “this is a method that works”, I’m going to show you the connections I made in my own head, and hope that you can divine some use out of it.

But first, a word on setting and story: To me, these two are intertwined. The setting serves the story, and the story serves the setting. You can’t separate the two. Because of this, you will notice that not only am I creating the setting, I am creating the story as well. Now, not the whole story. But the setup for the story. The characters and the history that make the story happen.

The history that is important to a setting will ALWAYS be the history that makes the story happen. The rest can be INTERESTING, but it is not always important.

The Seed

I’ve found the best way to develop a setting is to start with what I call the Seed. The Seed is that little bit of something that everything else will be built around. It can be an image. It can be a theme you want to discuss during the game. It can be pretty much anything.

No, Patrick. Mayonnaise is not a setting seed.

No, Patrick. Mayonnaise is not a setting seed.

In this case, it was a character concept. Only two words: Hobo Warrior. It had stuck in my head, this image of a warrior with ragged clothing, beaten but well taken care of armor and sword. Instead of the “mysterious wandering warrior” stereotype you normally get, calm, collected, “so coooool”, I pictured a character who was hard, with clear issues that prevent him from being part of normal society. But still supremely skilled.

I imagined him wandering from place to place, surviving off the land, and fighting some form of enemy that has a personal meaning to him, not because he is trying to save the world, but because of a personal trauma.

I feel this works solidly as a Seed because it is a unique hook. I mean, don’t you want to explore the life and times of Hobo Warrior already? A good seed is like this. It will hook in readers just from hearing about it alone.

Growing the Seed

Now, with this seed in place, it needs a world to inhabit. So, I come to the question I ask myself all the time when creating a setting: How?

We need not just a world that this character can be part of, we need a world that would PRODUCE him. How did he get this trauma? How did the enemies he hunts come about? You would of course, need different how questions with a different seed, but the idea is similar: How did “the seed” come to be? Or How will “the seed” be ? in the case of a theme

I decide to build this around two things, loss and personal betrayal. To build the most loss, I decide that he started at a high  point in his youth, some form of high ranking nobility, not in line to take control of his house, but instead a young knight, trained to protect his kingdom.

So at this point, his house has to fall. But why stop there, when we can have his whole kingdom fall? Everything he ever cared about taken away from him. What if a portal into some form of “demon” realm was opened that enveloped the entire kingdom? Not just destroying his people, but even the land itself being warped into a dark reflection of what he once loved.

This is what I will call the Touchfuzzy Law of Infinite Angst: If you are going to create a character who angsts, that we are supposed to like, at least give them something traumatizing enough to be worth angsting about.

And I don't care what you say, being mind controlled into giving a psychopath a weapon capable of destroying the entire world is a good reason to Angst. Fight me.

And I don’t care what you say, being mind controlled into giving a psychopath a weapon capable of destroying the entire world is a good reason to Angst. Fight me.

As for why demons? Honestly, I don’t really know. Sometimes you just have to throw ideas at the wall and see what sticks. And sometimes “cliche” is simpler, especially in the early planning stages. I can always change it later into something more unique if I want to, and for the moment the cliche fills the need. But at the moment, I’m not sure I even want to. Demons are horrifying. Destructive. Everything I need to do to my main character is there.

Stealing From Others

So now I need to ask again: HOW? How did this happen? So at the time when I was working on this setting, I was also watching the first few episodes of The Shannara Chronicles. Somewhere in its vascillating between being something halfway decent and being a mess of teen fiction, I got to thinking about the Druids from the Shannara setting.

I rather like the Druids, I’m a huge fan of the books (which while, not high literature, are certainly entertaining), and the idea of super powerful wizard/monk/historians struck me as interesting. And the idea of an order like that turning to “evil” as they did in the history of the Shannara books was appealing.

So… why not steal it? I mean, yes, you should never just rip off an existing setting wholesale. But individual bits and pieces? There isn’t a creative person alive who hasn’t done a bit of that (and I’ll certainly do some more before this setting is done). Steal the bits and pieces you need and combine them like Lego into new and interesting arrangements.

Just to be clear. I'm stealing from THESE. Not that ridiculously teeny MTV show. I have some standards.

Just to be clear. I’m stealing from THESE. Not that ridiculously teeny MTV show. I have some standards.

So an order of super powerful wizard types who go rogue. Since I wanted a personal betrayal involved in my main characters trauma, I believe we need to establish some kind of relationship between him and this order.

What if his Kingdom is really run by this order? What if the nobility exists mostly as a form of figureheads and bodyguards for these wizards? Somewhere along this idea my hobo warrior goes from just high up nobility to one of the younger princes of the realm. I figure with the real power laying with the magical order, who I refer to as Magi (singular Magus) at this point, I might as well move him up into the position where he will have had a lot of interactions with them.

Stealing From Yourself

So at this point, I had the bare bones of a fantasy setting. Realm destroyed by demons brought through by a powerful magical order going evil, with the hero of our setting being the prince, stripped of everything he had wandering the land to fight them. But I hadn’t made his pain PERSONAL yet. That was an early goal I set out to do.

So I needed another character, a character he could perceive as having betrayed him, someone he used to be close to.

While writing up this part, I had also been looking at a few of my older, abandoned stories. One of them was the beginnings of a sci-fi novel that featured a highly talented member of a psionic order many believed destined for greatness, who suffered suffered from extreme self-doubt. He developed a personality of “If I never try hard, all my failures are a result of my not caring, rather than that I couldn’t really do it.”

IE: I swear this was not a self insert. I mean. Really. I don't have psionic powers.

IE: I swear this was not a self insert. I mean. Really. I don’t have psionic powers.

Well, I certainly wasn’t using him in that story, it had sat there for years filed away in the back of my brain untouched, but the character itself was something I felt would be interesting to explore, so why not import him directly in.

Rather than a psionic, he was now a Magus. I decided to give him a sister, equally talented, who he always felt he could not live up to. She rose to the upper echelons of the Magi, he hovered in place, never taking things as seriously in fear that it would backfire and show everyone what a fraud his “talent” really was.

I developed a relationship between him and the young prince who would become Hobo Warrior. They were close. Not close enough for him to open up about his doubts, as he would never do that with anyone, but the closest relationship that either of them had.

So now that I have Hobo Warrior and Doubting Magus. Two characters set in a kingdom that has gone horribly horribly wrong. Most of my setting work so far has been to establish the story so far: AND THAT IS GOOD. I can never stress this enough times. Your setting serves the story. Your setting serves the story. Your setting SERVES THE STORY. You can include as much detail as you want, but the important bits to figure out are what makes your story click. All the rest is just details. Wednesday, I’m going to come back to give you part 2, where I’ll delve even deeper into more thievery, more cliches, more asking questions, and hopefully, a few more methods you can use in your setting creation.

So did you learn anything interesting? Have your own little tips, or maybe even stories about how you came up with bits of your setting? Share them in the comments section below.


by: Lunarea

You’ve found yourself right at the finish line, but before you hit “submit” on your masterpiece, take a moment and go through some finishing touches.

Find a brand new player


Whether you’ve tested your game a million times or had a plethora of friends and family helping, nothing replaces the kind of feedback you get from a first-time player. And here’s why – there are errors and inconsistencies that you simply don’t notice because you’ve gone through them so many times that you already know what to expect and what to do next.

Having a completely new player go through your game once is the best way to check for persistent or subtle errors. It’s also a simple indicator of how some of your players might react to your game – and a nice boost to your esteem if they fall madly in love with it.

Check your credits


Go through your credit list one more time and double-check that you got everyone’s details correctly. It’s way too easy to flip some letters around or miss a name – and that could lead to an unhappy artist/scripter or even a big copyright mess.

There are websites and blogs out there that have large collections of material from a variety of sources. While it sounds very convenient to just pick and choose resources from there, such places don’t always keep up to date with the original artists’ terms or updates. Always be sure that you’re going to the source directly by sending the original artist a message or by carefully looking through the EULA/TOS included in their resource pack(s).

Give yourself some time off


Lastly, make sure that you’ve finished your work with a lot time to spare. Not only does this give you a chance for some well-deserved rest, but it’s your just-in-case buffer. We’ve had quite a few cases of individuals who missed a big event deadline by a hair because of unexpected technical issues – internet went out locally, their host was down and the judges couldn’t download the project or they found a major game-breaking bug right after they submitted their game. And nothing is more frustrating than seeing yourself disqualified over something you had no control over.

Having that time off is good even when there’s no deadline in sight. You get to enjoy that satisfied feeling of completing something, before you have to tackle feedback from your players (whether that’s constructive criticism or high praise).

And that concludes our short game tips series! Have we missed anything? Let us know below!



RPG Maker MV has just had a major update, and we’ve decided to add on to that excellent news, with even more excellent news.

The first step in making excellent news even better is to put RPG Maker MV on Sale on Steam this week for 30% off! This is the lowest RPG Maker MV has ever been sold for! If you don’t already have it, this is the time to pick it up.



But we aren’t done delivering the good news. We’ve also decided to launch an awesome giveaway, where we are giving away 10 Limited Edition RPG Maker Poster Prints signed by RPG Maker creator Yoji Ojima himself, as well as a number of other prizes.

And of course, the news that started it all: The V1.1 Update for RPG Maker MV! This update really levels up the program, with new features, improved features, new generator parts, more plugins, and a host of bugfixes. You can read about all the changes our hard work has produced here! And this is just the beginning. We are already working on even MORE improvements for the future!

Don’t miss out on this great deal on the new and improved RPG Maker MV! Pick it up today!


By: Lunarea

We’ve chatted about writing and mapping for short games, and now it’s time to tackle atmosphere. Why is atmosphere important? Atmosphere is that subtle touch that makes the final boss map feel more dangerous, or the nostalgic cutscene feel more sad. By combining theme, sounds and visuals, you can take your game’s presentation to the next level.



Finding just the right song can make or break your scene. A cheesy fast-paced BGM will make your romantic scene feel like it ought to come with its own laugh track. Yet a slow waltz that accompanies your characters dancing just might make the player smile. You want the right kind of music for the right kind of scene. So, open up your music library and start listening.

Small playlist? No problem! No matter what the situation, you can count on finding something in our store’s music packs. We’ve got an ever-growing variety of themes, moods and beats – and we continue to produce and publish more. You’ll also want to check out our Resource-sharing forum area to find even more talented musicians who love to share their work.

But there are also a few other ways you can use sound…

Sound effects can bring an extra layer of depth to your game. Quiet sound of footsteps makes a haunted house feel more petrifying, while chirping of birds makes the forest seem friendly. With some clever eventing, you can make the sounds feel random (make use of those “wait” commands, people!) or rhythmical.

Also, consider how the absence of sound will affect your game’s flow. A suddenly quiet area in the horror game will put the player on edge (jump scare time!), while a completely quiet graveyard will appear more somber.

Be creative in your use of sound and don’t be afraid to refer to movies or TV shows for inspiration.



Color can be a powerful vehicle for putting your theme and atmosphere to the front. A flashback feels more nostalgic if it’s in black and white or sporting that vintage sepia tone. A map looks more depressing and desolate if it’s painted in monotone grays. And that evil serial killer is even more psychotic when dressed like a clown…

One simple way to add color is to play around with Screen Tint. Aside from helping show the passage of time, a subtle tint can help you add a little warmth to a cozy map or a sickly hue to the poisonous swamp. Remember that subtlety is key, as you don’t want to mask away important details with a tint that’s too strong.

If you want to take color a step further, you can look into its psychological properties. Nick wrote a great article on the way Persona uses color and how color is tied to the overall themes the game is exploring. This effect is very subtle, and not something that a player might notice as they play. However, it might stick with them and give you an edge against your competition.



I’ve touched briefly on contrast in sound and color, but you can take it a step further and work it into your dialogue and characterization as well as the atmosphere in general.

For example, a cheerful and perky character will be more memorable and noticeable if they’re set in a gloomy environment. By seemingly being at odds with the atmosphere, they will draw the player’s attention. They might even make the player uneasy, which is perfect for those horror games…

You can also use contrast to match your atmosphere to your game’s flow. The map could, for example, get darker and darker as the player approaches the final dungeons. Or the map could become obscured and narrow while the music becomes more tense. Starting with a subtle atmosphere that turns into something heavy, you can make your short game evoke emotion that the player will remember (and hopefully appreciate!).

And there you have it! A few rambling thoughts on atmosphere. Do you have any tips and tricks for evoking just the right feeling? Chime in below!


So the other day, I was scrolling down through Facebook, (as you do, when half your job involves scrolling down through Facebook), and I saw a really neat video that was put up by Vox.

If you don’t have time to watch the video, here is the breakdown: Push door has a pull handle. Everyone gets it wrong. Why do they get it wrong? Because its dumb design.

The name is coined after Don Norman, cognitive scientist and usability engineer, who wrote the book The Design of Everyday Things. The whole point of the book is that we should design things so they are easily “readable” for our brains, so that we use them properly without thinking about them.

As he says in the video: “The ideal door, is one that as I walk up to it and walk through it, I’m not even aware that I had opened and shut it.” The idea is people centered design. Things should work the way that our minds instinctively think they should work, and once we internalize how they work, they should stay consistently be that way in reality.

And while this is clearly useful in real life, and has applications for some world changing ideas, this got me to thinking about how IMPORTANT this is to video games as well. We need player centered design. We need designs that communicate the right thing to the players, so that they instinctively do the thing you intended.

For a quick example, a recent game that I played, in its main town, used water that the player could walk through. Now, the water didn’t block anything off, it had bridges and stuff. But during the first few hours of the game, I wasted a bunch of time following the paths to the bridges and stuff before realizing I could walk through the shallow water.

Now: What would have happened had they done the same thing in a dungeon. Imagine the scenario outlined by the quickly, and poorly (both design wise and just aesthetically), made map below.


Imagine that the player comes in from the northeast entrance. He can walk on the water section, but HE doesn’t know that. Where does he go? 99% of games use water, even shallow water, as a barrier. How does he know your game is any different? He doesn’t see anything useful, maybe there was something he was supposed to do further back that he missed. And then he wanders your map forevermore, leaves a bad review cause the game is stupid, and you cry into your pillow at night. (Ok, that was just me. it was because he said my mapping was ugly.)

But how can you fix this. How could you redirect your player to attempting to walk on the water? What if the water went all the way up to the stairs? Like below.


Its still mapped atrociously, I know, but look at how those stairs draw the player into walking down into the water. This is a much more clear communication of what your map does. Now, you would still need to test this with playtesters, we may be wrong, it may be just as bad, but its certainly a step in the right direction in THINKING about usability.

You’ve thought about how most games use those tiles, and you are trying to guide your player into knowing that you aren’t using them the same way. Its important information. The next thing is that you then HAVE to stay consistent. You can’t train a player that something works one way, then pull a switcharoo on them. If that water is walkable, it needs to stay walkable the whole game.

As an example, if you don’t have a single bookshelf in the first half of the game have any interaction, don’t suddenly throw in one shelf that has something important on it! Why would they know to check shelves? You have trained them to ignore them as just decorations. If you wanted to put something on a bookshelf, pepper usable bookshelves throughout the game early, even if they just tell some lore, or occasionally give you a minor item, it trains them to LOOK at the bookshelves. Then when you put in that important item, they know: Bookshelf = interact.

There are tons of other ways that player-centric design enters games. How puzzles are created. Bigger stats = better stats. Green = Good, Red = Bad. Can you think of any bad player-centric design in games? Something you were baffled by? How do you incorporate player-centric design into your games? Join us in the comments section below.


by: Lunarea

Mapping often tends to create a dichotomy among game developers: it’s either like a cherry-topped dessert that’s thoroughly enjoyed or a monotonously torturous and painful chore. Regardless of which camp you fall into, we all agree that mapping is necessary and important. Screenshots tend to be one of the first things a player will notice, which gives you (developer) the opportunity to really inspire and entice.

However, like writing, mapping for short games can be a little different from your usual process. For one, you are likely working with a much lower and more limited amount of maps than you’re used to. This means that each map counts for a lot more when it comes to building your game world. With a few small tweaks, however, you can end up with interesting and appealing maps. Read on for a few tips on tackling mapping.


Adjusting Scale

When thinking about maps for short games, our natural impulse is to assume that all we have to do is just make smaller maps. But this isn’t always the case. You could, for instance, base your game around exploring a maze. In that scenario, a single large map might be a much better choice.

Instead of focusing on changing the size, try focusing on changing the scale.

For example, instead of making a minuscule village and fitting just 3 houses on the map, adjust the scale and map in a way that gives the illusion that the player is zoomed in. In my map above, for example, there are only 2 houses the player can visit. But the addition of roofs, walls and roads gives the impression that the area is much larger than what the map displays. By changing the scale of what the player sees, I have created a much smaller map without sacrificing the size of my game’s world.

Scaling can also go the opposite direction – where you would condense your map to fit in a much smaller space. One of the best examples of this is in inner house maps, where it’s not crucial for the player to walk around. You can often decrease the size of the home by half, and still have it be usable.

The added benefit of mapping inner rooms on a smaller scale is that they look a lot cozier and more natural. It’s perfect practice for those of you who struggle with inner maps.



Adjusting Detail

Shifting the scale of your maps will also affect the level of detail you want to add to your map. You might, for example, be tempted to add a lot of additional details to spruce up your maps. If you’re not careful, you could overwhelm your player and make it difficult to navigate through the map.

My advice is to first focus on making your maps functional – make sure the layout is simple, that the player knows how to move through each map and that entrances/exits are clearly marked. This is especially important when you’ve scaled your map to look like it’s a part of the bigger world.

Then, cluster the detail in a way that highlights the important game objects and the path between them. Make sure you’re leaving pockets of empty (negative) space, so the player has a chance to rest their eyes. Lastly, remember that color can quickly draw the player’s attention when it’s in contrast with the background. A red roof in a white winter map is very noticeable, as is a glowing white orb in a dark cave or a bright pink gem in the middle of tangled green vines.



Adding Customization

Short games are the perfect place to experiment with personalization and custom materials. It’s a great place to include edits, recolors or even completely original pieces. Since the scale of the game is so small, there’s a much smaller chance you’ll get overwhelmed by the amount of work required to make custom material.

Adding custom material shows that extra time and effort went into creating your project. It also has the added benefit of making your game more unique and memorable – which is especially important if you’re competing in an event!

You can be a lot more bold with short games – try out a brand new graphic/music style, play with colors and settings you haven’t worked with before or (finally) make use of that resource pack you grabbed from our store when it was on sale…

Not sure where to start? Check out this tutorial by Indrah, or check out some of Celianna’s saved Livestreams.

Got any mapping tips for your fellow developers? Let us know below!



We’ve been having a great time celebrating RPG Maker’s 26th birthday, with things like our Game Making Challenge, and its accompanying article on making short games, but now its time to REALLY break open the piñata and get out all the awesome shinies inside!

And that means its time for an RPG Maker Birthday Bash SALE!

Starting today and continuing until March 1st, we’ll be having a store wide* sale with discounts as high as 80% off!

This includes our versatile RPG Maker Engines themselves…


… our beautiful graphics


…and of course all the stellar music you need.


Get everything you want today!

And make sure to check in on all the cool games being made for the challenge… and hey, why not make one yourself? Join the fray, get that game done, and get your free exclusive pack! Everyone who finishes is a winner!

*Sale Excludes: RPG Maker MV, RPG Maker MV Essentials, RPG Maker MV Cover Pack, Medieval Town and Country, Medieval Interiors, Medieval Town Bundle, Pop Horror City Character Packs 1 & 2, Egyptian Memories, Asian Empires, and the Fantasy Historica Music Pack.


By: Lunarea

Whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting out, there’s a particular sort of challenge when it comes to writing for a short game. As a developer, you find yourself walking a narrow line between creating a world rich enough to draw the player in, but simple enough to be conveyed in those few minutes of game-play. It’s treacherously easy to fall onto either side – a story that’s just too ambitious or a story that leaves too many questions unanswered. So, how exactly do you write for a short game? Read on for some of my favorite tips and tricks!


Find a new starting point

Starting your game planning with the plot and story can often lead to a story that’s far too complex for your short game. So, let’s challenge ourselves and start with something very different – like, say, the number of maps?

Pick a small number of maps that seem like a good and sensible amount for a short game – I recommend something between 5 and 10. There should be enough for the player to explore, but not so much that they’d have to rush through a ton of locations. Then, think about what kind of story you can tell inside just those few maps. Will your story progress in a linear way, with each map being a different experience? Or will you have the player back-track to find a detail they missed the first time around?

Want to challenge yourself further? Write a story that happens on just one map. You could write a horror story about being trapped in a small space. You could write a slice-of-life comedy about hiding in your girlfriend’s closet in your underwear because her parents came home early. Or how about a surreal puzzle trying to figure out your lost identity?

And let’s not stop at the number of maps. You could start with a music playlist, a puzzle number or even the number of character sprites you want to use. Sure, it seems limiting, but…


Embrace the limitations

Sometimes, we’re afraid that limitations are going to end up robbing us of our creativity, but – more often than not- it’s the opposite that happens. Having a limitation can be a great way to boost your creativity, as it forces you to consider new ideas and approaches that you would have dismissed before. Instead of being major obstacles to overcome, limitations can become landmarks that help you navigate through a million and one ideas to find the one that best fits your game.

In fact, you might find yourself slightly addicted to limitations and inspired to keep wondering “What if?”. What if you limited yourself to telling the story from a single perspective – and that perspective wasn’t the main character’s? Or what if your main character was only limited to speaking in movie titles?

Be an editor

Of course, not all crazy limitations and ideas are going to work. And if you’ve landed on a particularly exciting idea, maybe you were a little overzealous and found yourself with a novel-length story…

This is where editing comes into play. You would look at your story with the critical eye and whittle away all the unnecessary trimmings until you’re left with a story that does what it’s supposed to – draws the player in and keeps them playing. But that’s easier said than done, right?

One tip I have for you is to write out the story as a whole. Then remove a detail and see if the story still makes sense. Keep going until you’ve removed all the extras. This should leave you with a list of absolutely essential events. At this point, you can go back through the story again and see if there’s any areas that need to be fleshed out more.

Then rinse and repeat until you’re happy with your story.


Get some feedback

Even with your most brutal editing, sometimes you’re just too close to the story and you find it impossible to tell how a player would perceive it. This is where a tester or two can really help. You can force let your family and friends try out your short game and see what they think. Or you could post it on our friendly forums and let fellow developers check it out.

And, of course, remember to return the favor and play a project or two when you’ve got some free time. If you’re lucky, you’ll discover a great source of inspiration – or make a new friend or two.

Do you have any tips for writing short stories? Let us know below!


So every once in a while, while browsing our forums, or just out and about on the internet reading about game design, I run into a single question. A question I’m sure that you, too, have heard before.

And I’m sure that the title has already spoiled what that question will be, so let’s just get to it:

How long should I make my game?

And at first glance, this seems like a reasonable question. But then if you think about it for any amount of time…

It’s a bit infuriating.

It’s the WRONG question.

It’s putting the cart before the chocobo.

It only works if you hook it up this direction, everybody

It only works if you hook it up this direction, guys.

The question isn’t “How long should I make my game?” it’s, “How long does the experience I want to create take to deliver?”

Now, in some cases, this is your story. How long can my story stay? What is overstaying its welcome? What is the perfect amount of time to deliver this story? Unless you have some other considerations (and sometimes you do, but we’ll talk about that later), that is how long your game should be. If you go under that time, it will feel clipped. If you go over that time… the player will start to notice that things are stretched for no reason. NO ONE WANTS A GAME TO WASTE THEIR TIME. Adding 30 minutes of unnecessary grinding makes your game LONGER but it doesn’t make your game BETTER, it makes it worse.

And that doesn’t mean you can’t add MORE, it just means that any more you add needs to be optional. Take a look at a game like Dragon Age: Inquisition

I have no choice but to look at it, My wife seems to be playing it every day.

I have no choice but to look at it, My wife seems to be playing it every day.

The main story is not really that long. You can knock it out pretty quickly if that is what you want to do. BUT, there is a lot of other stuff to do. It’s optional. You can go explore tons of stuff that you never actually HAVE to touch to win. Players are OK with wasting time, as long as they get to make the decision to waste time, not the game making it for them. The game is only as long as it needs to be to tell the story. Sure there are the power roadbumps, but those are there to give the game the proper scale, to communicate the setting as part of the story.

And then, even if it’s not the story that is the experience you want to deliver, even if it’s a mechanic. How long until that mechanic gets old?

How long does it take to get the full experience of that mechanic or structure?

It isn’t about a set amount of hours, it’s about what works for the EXPERIENCE.

There is a small indie game that I’m pretty fond of, called Atom Zombie Smasher. The entire game is the mechanics really. Go to location, save civilians from zombies with a group of units and a helicopter. Assess how that changes the map, repeat. It’s fun, it’s got a bit of strategy. And the game is a few hours to play from beginning to end.

... that helicopter better get there fast.

… that helicopter better get there fast.

The game isn’t longer than it needs to be. It plays through in a single afternoon. It’s replayable, so I’ve played it multiple times, but it doesn’t take 30 hours to beat because we’ve decided that 30 hours is how long a game should be.

Games should never be about length. Games are about the experience. Think about your experience first, and the length will come naturally.


Battlebacks are quite ubiquitous when it comes to RPGmaker.  Throughout VX and before, they were pretty easy to figure out.  A floor and wall graphic, and you’re set.  Well, the floor and wall are still quite necessary, but there are a few new considerations to take into account when creating your own battlebacks for RPGMaker MV.

Here is a handy graphic I’ve created as a quick guide for you battleback creators out there, which I will go over in depth.


Overall size 1000×740: This is the overall size for your document, it includes the live area and the overflow regions.  This has increased considerably from VX and previous versions of RPGMaker.  It should still be made up of floor and wall .png files.

Live Area 816×624: This is the section of your battleback that will be viewed the most during a battle sequence.  As you can see, depending on your sideview battler selection, this area changes.  With sideview battler turned on, it prioritizes the floor, and with sideview battler turned off, it prioritizes the wall.  When designing a custom battleback, you should keep in mind what setting it should be used for.

Overflow/Camera Shake Area: MV introduces camera shakes and pans during battle for a more visceral experience.  The overflow areas are required so the game engine does not display black bars around your battleback.  Keep in mind, these regions of your battleback will rarely be visible and will mostly be used simply for movement transitions.  Don’t put anything TOO detailed that you want the player to see in these areas.

Horizon: this is simply a rough guide to where you should place your wall imagery, you don’t want your sideview characters standing on it; it looks super weird.

My suggestion would be, take a screenshot of the battle mode and build off of that for your MV battlebacks; or just grab the below image as a guide and screen it back on another layer of your document.

Side view demo


Front view demo


Good luck with your battleback creations!

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